The Refugee Journey

Permaculture has the potential to improve lives at any of the stages of the journey of refugees.

In P4R we use the term ‘refugee’ interchangeably with ‘asylum seeker’, ‘forced migrant’, ‘internally displaced people’ (IDPs), and ‘stateless person’. While some of these labels are used to define political and legal status of mobilised populations, it is our intention to embrace these situations under the umbrella of P4R.

An asylum seeker is a person looking for protection because they fear persecution, or they have experienced violence or human rights violations.

forced migrant is a person who is forced to leave or flees their home to go to new places – usually abroad – to seek opportunities or safer and better prospects. Migration can be voluntary or involuntary, but most of the time a combination of choices and constraints is involved.

An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who has been forced to flee their home but never crosses an international border.

refugee is a person who asked for protection and was given refugee status. They may have been resettled in another country or be waiting for resettlement. Not every asylum seeker becomes a refugee, but every refugee starts out as an asylum seeker.

A stateless person is someone who has been denied a nationality and lacks access to basic rights such as education, health care, employment and freedom of movement.

Reference: Red Cross,; UNHCR

To illustrate the complexity of refugees’ journeys, we have created a slideshow showing some stages they encounter. Depending on where they are from, and where they land, people have diverse experiences, rights, responsibilities, and protection.

The Refugee Journey refers to all people forcibly migrating, including refugees, asylum seekers, and other displaced persons, often inside their own countries.

According to the United Nations (UN) data from May 2022, there are now 100 million people forcibly displaced globally, which represents 1% of the global population and is equivalent to the 14th most populous country in the world.

The number includes refugees and asylum seekers as well as the 53.2 million people displaced inside their borders by conflict.

Refugees and permaculture: A story

Refugees around the world are doing inspiring permaculture work and leading invaluable projects. Hear about Ernest Gibba’s journey and how the ethics and practices in permaculture were intrinsic in his community in the Gambia but how it has shifted in more recent times. Ernest’s story is about hope, embracing our diverse cultures and the importance of living in community. Ernest shares about his transition from the Gambia to Spain, and his current work at La Bolina.


Refugee Journey descriptions: A Global Education resource from World Vision, Issue 8 – Migration People on the move (2010) 
Terms and concepts
: People on the Move, Handbook of selected terms and concepts (2008). Hague Process on Refugees and Migration. Meyer, A, Witkamp, A, Pécoud, A

Featured image photo credit: Sporos Regeneration Institute